Autodesk Software Audit Essentials – The problem of using student licenses for commercial purposes!!!
I wanted to post a quick blog about this issue that I am finding to be more and more common in our software audit defense practice.
Many architect, engineer and design firms grow their practice through the hiring of interns or student employees. Many times, these students will be using free academic versions of software, such as Autodesk CAD or Revit. While Autodesk is usually very friendly in allowing students to get a feel for their software, they do draw the line when it comes to COMMERCIAL USE of their student software.
The problem can arise, for example, when a architect law firm from Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York (just to name a few), posts a job posting on sites like Indeed or Craigslist and they are advertising for someone with “CAD” skills.
We believe that Autodesk has monitors not only LinkedIn profiles (touting skills such as “Revit” or “Mayas”) but also monitoring the major job boards to see if an employer is seeking to hire new interns or students with certain skills involving the use of Autodesk software.
When they look up your company and see no paid commercial licenses, that is sometimes (having an “informant” is another), something that triggers the receipt of an “Autodesk audit letter” demanding your company submit to a audit to determine your level of licensing compliance, or if not, threatening a copyright infringement lawsuit (which can bring damages of up to $150,000 or more, and attorney fees). This is not something most companies ever want to deal with.
The answer is to ONLY USE STUDENT VERSIONS FOR EDUCATION – NOT COMMERCIAL USES. Commercial uses may draw a software audit demand letter from Autodesk's “GO TO” law firm Donahue Fitzgerald. This can create legal liability for the company, officers and directors and can become a great big hassle.
Autodesk Student Licensing Criteria
According to the Autodesk website:
Here are the simple criteria (to qualify for education licensing):
- You attend or teach at a qualified educational institution. — or — You are licensing software on behalf of a qualified educational institution.
- The products will be used for educational purposes only, not commercial purposes.
Another page of their website notes:
“Free Autodesk software and/or cloud-based services are subject to acceptance of and compliance with the terms and conditions of the software license agreement or terms of service that accompany such software or cloud-based services. Software and cloud-based services subject to an Educational license may be used solely for Educational Purposes and shall not be used for commercial, professional or any other for-profit purposes.”
Attorney Steve® Tip: THIS MEANS, IF YOU HIRE A STUDENT AND USE THEIR SOFTWARE FOR YOUR COMMERCIAL BUSINESS SERVICES YOU COULD BE VIOLATING THE TERMS OF THE EULA AND MAY BE SUBJECT TO ALLEGATIONS OF WILLFUL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.
To learn more about copyright infringement penalties click here.
Contact an Autodesk Audit Defense Lawyer
If you received the “love letter” (as we jokingly call it) from Autodesk or their intellectual property law firm, contact us BEFORE you CONTACT THEM. We can help you understand what you are up against, and we offer a no cost initial consultation. We also offer LOW predictable flat rate legal fees to help settle your case (meaning we do not “bill hourly” and see how long we can drag the case on as inevitably some law firms do). We are to our knowledge the LEADING LAW FIRM IN THE UNITED STATES handling these software audits and we have a strong track record of SUCCESS in getting these cases settled without having to go to federal court. Call us at (877) 276-5084.